Dec 5, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT
If Steven Stamkos had to pick one aspect of his recovery from a broken right tibia that’s the toughest, it’s watching the Tampa Bay Lightning fall, knowing he can’t help them.
When he suffered the injury, the Lightning were leading the Atlantic Division, but now they rank fourth and have just a five-point cushion in the battle for a playoff spot.
Although the Lightning have enjoyed the occasional offensive outburst without their top sniper, they haven’t scored a goal in back-to-back games and have been shut out of three of their last five contests.
Of course, Stamkos isn’t the only Lightning player sidelined, but there aren’t many forwards as vital to a team’s success as he is. They aren’t like the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks, which still look deadly even without a key player.
The Lightning haven’t proven that they’re that kind of team and their recent play only reinforces that. For Tampa Bay, getting back into the playoffs would be a big step forward, but the team’s offense will have to come from different sources for quite a while.
Stamkos is still nowhere near returning and he doesn’t have a timetable, although there have been suggestions that he’s eyeing a Feb. 6 return.
“It’s all about to how fast the bone heals, that part is a bit tricky, but I have to have a goal and I work towards my goal,” he said, according to the Lightning’s website.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay its own set of tasks.
- Quenneville opted for ‘fresh legs’ by inserting Nordstrom, Versteeg into lineup 2
- Video: Ducks hold off Blackhawks in Game 3 to take series lead 15
- (Video) PHT Extra: On Babcock, sticking to the process and housebuilding analogies 3
- Babcock predicts ‘pain’ for Leafs, who are a ‘massive, massive challenge’ 35
- Babcock wants to ‘put Canada’s team back on the map’ 44
- Flyers won’t trade Del Zotto, but ‘something will have to give’ on crowded blue line 21
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? 70
- It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet 34
- Brodeur signs three-year deal to be Blues’ assistant GM 12
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy 172
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (172)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (90)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)